SANTIAGO, Chile — President Nicole Grant says Gymnastics Jamaica is enjoying success in recent times because of a business model it utilised that is similar to that exercised by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA).
Since this JOA administration took office in 2017, with Christopher Samuda as its president and Ryan Foster as its chief executive officer and secretary general, it has pushed for the over 50 local sporting associations it oversees to adopt a more commercialised approach to their operations.
The JOA has branded this as “Business Unusual”, as this collective approach to all the sporting associations has allowed it to grow its network of corporate partners, which has also allowed it to increase its number of athlete representatives at major regional and international sporting events.
Gymnastics Jamaica is pleased with its performance in recent times, having qualified an athlete to the last two Olympic Games — Toni-Ann Williams at Rio 2016, and Danusia Francis at Tokyo 2020.
GRANT…if you really want to become a world or Olympic champion, you have to start specialising in the sport from an early age.
It is now aiming for Central American and Caribbean Games bronze medallist in artistic gymnastics, Tyesha Mattis, to qualify for Paris 2024.
The association has also rebranded its team for marketing reasons, as Jamaica’s gymnasts are now known as the Reggae Birdz.
“Specific to the Gymnastics Association, the JOA has really truly helped us,” Grant told the Jamaica Observer. “We have mimicked some of the ways in which the JOA administers its programmes and we try to do the same. We do courses to develop our coaches, our administrators and we do focus on a lot on developing our athletes.”
Grant says gymnastics is unusual in its nature, as it requires early specification about what each gymnast wants to do in their career.
“If you really want to become a world or Olympic champion, you have to start specialising in the sport from an early age,” she said. “So, we now have to design a programme that will allow our athletes to also get the opportunity to really train the hours that they need to, as well as to get exposure to other sports.
“We don’t want them to specialise in just gymnastics. In Jamaica, we want to give them that opportunity to also understand other sports, and be a part of other sports, so at the end of the day, when they get to certain ages, they will be really focused on the hard work that they need to put in for specifically gymnastics.”
Mattis and Caleb Faulk were Jamaica’s two participants at the Pan American Games earlier this week. Mattis withstood an ankle injury to compete in the uneven bars and the beam, while Faulk advanced and competed in the men’s all-around final.
Mattis also partnered with badminton player Samuel Ricketts as Jamaica’s flag bearers for the Pan Am Games opening ceremony on Friday.